Monday, August 10, 2009
The "List": Why Does It Exist?
Well, it has been a solid two or three months since the end of the JMC 425 class and my last blog. I have taken a sebaticle this summer because I wanted to relax from everything that was school. I probably should have been blogging more to work on my writing, but it is what it is. This is why I am writing now, to work on my writing as school is no more than two weeks away. Today I am going to write about a topic that has been bugging me lately and does not seem like it will go away any time soon, and that is the phantom 2003 steroid "list" compiled by the MLB Union to determine if they needed stronger testing in baseball.
This list first became public issue back in March/April, when an SI report flooded the sports newswires stating that Alex Rodriqguez, star third baseman for the New York Yankees, was on this list of 104 players in a 2003 voluntary testing session who tested positive for a perfomance enhancing drug. Now there are a couple huge problems I have with the release of A-Rod's name, and his only at that time, from this supposed "secret" list which was only compiled because players volunteered to get tested for the sake of baseball: 1) the players agreed to be tested on the basis that once the research was complete, that the list would be disposed of and no one would know and 2) what some or most of the players tested positive for during this 2003 test, was not illegal to take according to MLB testing policies during that time. So with the leak of Rodriguez's name to the media, someone knew the contents of the list and they were releasing that information at their own will.
Since then more than a half dozen names have been leaked from this list of 104 players, culminating with the names of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, two key components of a Boston Red Sox team that captured World Series glory in 2004 and again in 2007. I remember sitting in my hotel room in Las Vegas when I heard of the news on ESPN and I brushed it off as nothing that surprised me. As time passed, however, I started to think about the contents of the list and those who have been thrown under the bus at the expense of the media. It wasn't until I listened to Mike Greenberg this morning on "Mike and Mike In the Morning" that it struck me that while these names were released as supposedly being on the list, that it was never reported what they tested positive for. In the case of Ortiz and Ramirez, an anonymous individual who is leaking names reported that these two names were on the list, without any information as to what they tested positive for to trigger the positive test.
The response has been curious to a spectator such as myself. Ortiz was immediately approached and questioned by members of the media as to why he would be on the infamous 2003 list, to which Ortiz responded that he wanted to gather facts before he addressed the media. Because just like the rest of us, Ortiz had not been told what he had tested positive for, let alone that his name was actually on this list. When Ortiz came out this past Saturday, it was just him, no agent, no left-hand man telling him what to say, no piece of paper to read off of. He also had the backing of the MLB Union president who stated that he was tired of this list and that the 104 was an inflated number to the real number, which is more around 83-96. Ortiz maintained his innocence, claiming that he was careless in purchasing LEGAL vitamins and supplements, but that he never purchased or took anabolic steroids. Now the talk of the town is whether or not to believe Ortiz and his reasoning for being on the list.
My question is, where is Manny Ramirez and why is no one on his dreadlocks asking for a reason why he was on the list? As far as I'm concerned the whole steroid talk has been about Ortiz and none of it has surrounded Manny, who was already suspended 50 games this season for a positive test, in which he tested positive for a female fertility drug, commonly used by males coming off of a steroid cycle. But for some reason, people don't want to put 2 and 2 together and put Manny under the spotlight.
Regardless of whether or not this occurs, I feel that no names should have been leaked from this 2003 list where players tested with the promise that nothing would become of it. I also have a problem with players being accused of using PEDs when they weren't illegal to use in baseball. Back in 2003, the supplement ingridient "nandronine" was legal to purchase and ingest according to baseball policy. Since 2003, it has become illegal and is now on the list of banned substances. For example, Mark McGwire was accused of taking an anabolic steroid during the peak of his career in the late 90's and early 2000s, but what people don't care about is that this steroid was not illegal to take during this time period. This means nothing to the public, however, as any use of a PED constitutes instant infamy, a bold "x" stamped on their forehead, a cheater for eternity.
As for this list, it needs to be demolished and the person or people responsible for the leaks needs to be prosecuted and sent to jail. The players who agreed to test for this list agreed to do so with the protection that it would be vaporized once completed. But once the federal government became involved with baseball, steroids, and BALCO, it confiscated the list and ever since then, has been responsible for the leaks. Destroy this list and get it out of baseball because it is a disgrace that players who thought they were safe now have to fear for their reputation because of an individual hellbent on ruining baseball, one name at a time.